Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

The low-maintenance fig tree thrives even when not pruned. If it was cultivated outdoors, it can grow very sprawling and reach a considerable size and width. But then the harvest of the tasty fruits is often quite small. In this way, the fig can be stopped with a targeted topiary so that the garden does not look deserted. And fruit formation can also be stimulated by spring pruning, for example.

Ideal time

The late winter months of February and early March are the ideal time for pruning the fig for education and maintenance. In any case, the spring pruning should be done before the new shoots of the fig tree. In autumn, figs that are cultivated outdoors should not be cut back. Because here there is a risk of frost penetrating through the interfaces and damaging the tree as a whole.

Trees cultivated in tubs or directly in front of a house wall, which move to a frost-free room over the winter or are otherwise protected, can or should even be pruned in autumn. Because it is easier to prepare a smaller tree for the winter. In addition, a summer cut can be made, in which long shoots are removed.


Above all, sharp and disinfected tools are required for pruning. If the devices are out of focus, bumps and cracks appear at the interface, which bacteria and viruses can penetrate more quickly. If the devices are not disinfected, adhering bacteria, viruses or fungal spores can also penetrate. Disinfectants are available in well-stocked garden shops, and pure alcohol from pharmacies is also recommended.

The following devices are recommended for pruning and shaping:

  • Rose shears for young shoots
  • Pruning shears for older shoots
  • Saw for thick branches

Whenever pruning, care should be taken to ensure that long clothing and gloves are worn. Because even small injuries to the wood or even breaking off the large leaves releases a milky sap that is slightly toxic and can cause skin irritation when touched.

spring pruning

A fig tree that has been cultivated outdoors is usually pruned back in February or March when budding has not yet started. It is important to ensure that you cut off damaged branches and shoots in particular. The one- or two-year-old shoots are particularly susceptible to frost, older branches are usually not affected by frost damage.

In addition, an older fig tree tends to become bare from the inside, which can also be remedied by pruning. Therefore, the following procedure should be followed when pruning outdoor trees in spring.

Here's how to do it:

  • always cut from bottom to top
  • Cut off thick shoots that hinder growth at ground level
  • remove all dead or frozen branches and shoots
  • always leave a branch or an eye
  • from this, new shoots form in the summer
  • Cut back vigorously on older fig trees
  • this prevents bareness
  • however, fruit must be avoided in the cutting year

It should always be ensured that as many biennial shoots as possible are left standing, as these are where the flowers and fruits form. In addition, with larger cuts, for example if a thick branch has been removed, tree wax should be applied to the wound, which acts like a plaster.

summer cut

Potted plants can also be easily cut back in summer if long shoots grow out of the crown or root ball and disturb the overall picture. However, care should be taken to ensure that there are flowers or fruit on the selected shoots. Outdoor figs can also be pruned again in this way when the first frosty nights are far from expected.

fall pruning

In autumn, just before hibernation, only fig trees that are protected from frost should be pruned. These include potted plants that move to winter quarters, or plants that have been cultivated directly in front of a house wall or in a corner and can also be completely covered with plant fleece here. With these figs it is particularly important that they do not grow so sprawling, so the following should be taken into account when pruning in the fall.

How to proceed:

  • usually leave two-year-old shoots standing
  • Cut out disturbing shoots from the inside
  • Cut back so far that the container plant fits into the winter quarters

You can cut back the fig tree in the bucket or on a house wall/corner as far as you wish. Fig trees can also tolerate a larger pruning. Sufficient two-year-old shoots should remain so that the harvest is guaranteed again next summer.

maintenance cut

A maintenance cut can be done at any time of the year, even with the outdoor figs. Because this serves to ensure that the fig can thrive better. The following parts of the plant are removed during maintenance pruning.

  • dead or frozen branches and shoots
  • can be removed at any time
  • yellowing leaves
  • dead fruit

This gives the tree enough strength to continue growing. A radical cut is also possible as a maintenance cut. So if most of the branches and shoots have died off in a harsh winter, or an old tree has bare leaves, then only radical pruning can help. Here the fig is cut back to ground level. The tree will sprout again from the root.

Of course, a little patience is required here until Ficus carica is ready to form new fruits again. Therefore, it makes more sense to protect the tree in winter and to cut it regularly so that frost damage or bare vegetation cannot occur in the first place.

education cut

The training pruning should be done before the new shoot in late winter. This is usually done to build a beautiful crown. Therefore, the educational cut should be proceeded as follows.

  • remove all disturbing shoots close to the ground
  • leave a central, straight main shoot as a later trunk
  • Also remove side shoots in the crown area
  • Remove any shoots that grow inward
  • remove crossing shoots
  • leave some new shoots
  • However, only leave two main shoots in the area of the crown
  • also shorten a main shoot that is getting too long
  • shape into a round shape, clipping any overgrown branches
  • Cut the crown so that there is always enough light coming in

The training pruning is not only used to form an attractive crown, it can also be decisive for fruiting. Because the fruits only form on the two-year-old shoots, care should be taken to leave as many of them as possible so that the harvest is rich. And fruits also develop on the new shoots, but only later in the year. Therefore, if one- and two-year-old shoots are encouraged during training and not removed, the harvest can be twice a year.

Fig tree as a trellis

A fig tree can also be cultivated in a trellis. For this, however, he needs the right shape cut. Especially in small gardens, trellis fruit saves a lot of space and can also replace a screen to the neighbors.

To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Reduce figs to two or three main shoots
  • these grow straight from the roots
  • tie the main shoots to the trellis
  • cut all side shoots that are in the way
  • also cut off shoots growing in the wrong direction
  • tie all other shoots to the trellis
  • make sure there is enough air and light between the individual shoots

The fig tree as a trellis can be cultivated individually in a large tub or with several plants together in front of a fence or a house wall. The advantage here is the space that is saved, since the fig does not grow as expansively as a tree with a crown. Of course, the harvest of this espalier fruit is also lower due to the few shoots. Nevertheless, this is a good way not to have to do without the tasty fruits in a small garden or on a small terrace/balcony.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!